Basildon, United Kingdom. December 5th, 2014.

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A sinkhole has appeared in the front garden of a house in Berkshire.

The 10m (32ft) wide and 5m (16ft) deep crater formed outside the family home of Sarah Jenkins, in Upper Basildon, near Reading.

Ms Jenkins said: “It’s massive and it’s getting bigger all the time.”

Consultant engineer Dr Clive Edmonds described it as “one of the larger of the hole sizes to appear”.

The hole first appeared on 5 December but is continuing to grow.

Ms Jenkins added: “The only access to our property has been across our neighbour’s garden.

“It’s taken out quite a bit of the driveway and garden and it’s sitting underneath my children’s climbing frame, so it’s very serious.

“It’s dangerous. Living with this is absolutely dreadful.”

‘Manmade tunnels’

The house sits on top of an old brick factory, which was active in the 19th Century.

Tunnels run under the street at 16m (52ft) beneath ground level.

Dr Edmonds, a partner at Peter Brett Associates which is investigating the case, said this meant the pit should be more accurately described as a crown hole, rather than a sink hole.

“That’s when a collapse is due to manmade tunnels in the ground beneath rather than naturally formed,” he said.

“Size-wise it’s as large as any that are recorded on the chalk in southern and eastern England.

“It’s definitely had an impact as it’s in close proximity to the property.”

Ms Jenkins said John Lewis Insurance had yet to make a decision on her claim, but she was hoping for an answer before Christmas.

The company turned down a previous claim in February, when a smaller hole appeared in the driveway in which her car became stuck.

“The expense is crippling and this new hole is unbelievable,” she added.

John Brady, head of commercial at John Lewis Insurance, said: “This is an ongoing investigation that we are taking very seriously and treating as a matter of urgency.

“However, until we have a final decision from our risk assessors, we are unable to comment further.”

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